BYRON – Saddled with two quick fouls, Newman star big man Kyle Moore had just two points and two rebounds in the first half. Big trouble? Hardly.
Freshman center Noah McCarty stepped up, as did the rest of the Comets en route to their 46-27 dismantling of Seneca in the Class 2A Byron Sectional semifinals Wednesday at Byron High School.
Moore was whistled for his second foul and went to the bench with 5:05 left in the first quarter. Newman led 6-2. He did not return until the 6:56 mark of the second quarter.
“If you would have told me that, I would have thought we were out of the game,” said Comets guard A.J. Sharp who scored 10 of his game-high 14 points in the first half.
“It didn’t matter who was out of the game, or who was in the game, we were clicking,” said Moore, who wound up with 10 points and eight rebounds.
In the meantime, the Comets (25-4) built a 13-point lead that was whittled slightly to nine. They scored the next two points and led by double digits the rest of the way.
McCarty made a few “freshman mistakes,” but did a lot more good than harm, scoring all of his six points in the first half and pulling down 10 boards.
“It’s much more nerve-wracking to be on the court in the sectional semis,” said McCarty, who has been with the varsity team all season. “I’m always nervous going into a game, but it has sunk in that I’ve played a lot this season, so I’m used to it by now.”
Unbeaten Winnebago might not be unbeaten after Friday, when the Comets come a-callin’.
The Indians are 30-0, but have been tested at times, including an overtime win over Oregon and a buzzer-beating victory over Rock Falls.
“We beat Oregon and Rock Falls, and they gave [Winnebago] good games,” Newman coach Ray Sharp said. “If we play like we did tonight, we’ve got a good chance.”
“If we play great defense, I think we can beat them,” A.J. Sharp said. “I think we can beat any team in the state right now, if we play good defense.”
After reaching the supersectionals in 1A last season, the Comets were bumped up to 2A.
“The guys were excited about the challenge,” Ray Sharp said. “I’m sure they wished we were 1A, but we’re not.”
“We knew it was going to be tougher, that’s for sure,” Moore said. “But, now we’re in the final 16 in 2A.”